Irish doctor with too many thoughts, too little time and a blog that's supposed to check in on reality.

Monday, February 28, 2005

Newsweek on the Pope's 'Precious' Suffering

Excellent article on the meaning of the Pope's suffering and recent illnesses and how he's becoming a potent symbol for his message: that life is sacred, no matter how painful.....In a written message, the pope told the world's sick, "Your suffering is never useless ... it's a precious thing."

Like most young Catholics, Pope John Paul is all I know. I had the honour of meeting him 5 years ago and receiving his blessing - he touched my cheek and was possibly the most powerful personal encounter of my life. He was a frail man then but his strength of spirit and the light of his intellect shone through.
The last few days has been conflicting for me - part of me wants him to pass peacefully when God calls him but another part of me wants him to live forever, continuing to show to "The spectacle of his condition crystallizes his ferocious attachment to life—the most central, coherent and consistent teaching of his papacy—whether that life is threatened in the womb by abortion, or in old age by euthanasia."

Newsweek ends with this line "Yet the pope's absence had a power of its own. It contained questions: about life, about suffering, about the nature of God"

Sunday, February 27, 2005

Rugby win

YESSSSSS!!!!!!!! We won!!!!! :-)) Let joy be unconfined! We played much better last year, and we still have a lot of room for improvement, but winning against the world champions by 6 points when you are playing way below your best is no mean achievement. Admittedly, this is an average English team, but they far from being as poor as the first two teams we have played in the championship, and they were really hungry for a win. They now have no wins out of three, a poor return.

England have a strong pack, which had the upper hand in the tight for most of the afternoon, and they seemed to have most of the sustained pressure. But this Irish team seems to have mastered the art of getting crucial scores at the right time. O'Driscoll again showed why he is the best centre on the planet, scoring the vital try in the middle of the second half.

O'Gara's place kicking seemed to let him down in the second half, and his open play seemed to dip at times. overall though, he had a better game than his opponent, Charlie Hodgson, who didn't really impose himself on the game. Still, the English forwards kept piling the pressure on, and it was a nailbiting finish. For the English, to lose 3 matches like this in a row must be absolutely heartbreaking. (All together Ahhhh)

For Ireland, the next test is the French, who will be looking to salvage their season after a loss to resurgant Wales. Another tough game. But confidence in the Irish camp after that game will be sky high. The only question is: Can my heart take another 80 minutes like that?

Friday, February 25, 2005

The '@#%*ing Peace Process

Former Taoiseach John Bruton got himself into hot political water when he declared, off the record, that he was sick of the (insert preferred expletive here) peace process. At the weekend, Brendan O'Connor claimed that he was now sick of the self same process. In the IT, Finonnuala O'Connor (surely the best SDLP spokesperson around, notwithstanding the fact that she isn't an elected representative) is saying that the peace process was founded on the contradiction between admitting SF into the democratic process without SF accpeting that process as fully legitimate.

Here's my take. The North was set up as a sectarian state. That's just a fact. Even David Trimble has admitted it was "a cold house for Catholics". As such, it helped to stimulate the growth of the Provisional IRA in circumstances of profound societal upheaval.

The peace process was a product of a desire on the part of both Nationalist and Loyalist communities to stop the increasingly vicious sectarian killings. It is all too easy to forget the horror of the Graysteel massacre, where a loyalist gang killed random Nationalists in a pub in 1994, or the Enniskillen bombing, where Provo thugs killed 13 Unionists attending the Cenotaph during the Armistice commemoration in 1987. In those years, murder was part of the daily routine in the North. We have come a long way.

But, in coming this far, we have allowed Sinn Féin too much latitude, especially in the South. We have forgotten the carnage, excused it, too readily. When David Trimble took a big political risk with his own supporters in 2000, by going into government without decommissioning, we gave him too little credit, and thereby allowed Sinn Féin off the hook when they didn't help him out.

We have also been too lax about the danger that a party which has strong links to an organised armed gang poses to our democracy. Irish people don't really seem that concerned about democracy, unless it happens to be in another country. Huge numbers of people were outraged at the allegation that Bush "stole" the US Presidential Election in 2000. But up till recently about 60% of Irish people were prepared to accept the possibility of Sinn Féin being in government without first getting rid of their IRA connections.

The Peace Process was a brave project and may have yielded lasting benefits. The situation which prevailed beforehand was not one which ought to remembered fondly. But we nodded at criminality for too long. The chickens are now coming home to roost. We may be able to salvage some of the gains, but the time for pussyfooting with thugs and criminals has ended.


Wednesday, February 23, 2005

UN Scandals Galore

Claudia Rossett has been writing on the numerous UN scandals that have come to light in recent times. This article from the WSJ deals with North Korean refugees who are treated quite badly by the UN High Commission for Refugees -
The UNHCR keeps an office in Beijing, with a budget this year totaling $4.4 million, to which asylum seekers have no access. Four years ago, a family of North Korean refugees actually stormed the premises and gained asylum after threatening to eat rat poison from their pockets if forced back out onto the street. Since then, the UNHCR has allowed China's security agents to better defend the compound against further visits by the people the UNHCR is supposedly in China to protect.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Just A Big Bag of Chips and a Burger to Go.....

Not if you're American.....Anti American attitudes were blamed for the "savage attack" on a number of Americans in Castlebar a few days ago. Des Bishop weighs in with his (very funny) Abrakebabra experience. (that said I think him flying around on the trolleys in Superquinn in Dundalk was funnier)
This is very sad reflection on the state of affairs between Ireland and the US.
The title " A Bag of Chips and a burger to go" is a line from a Saw Doctors song - "Chips" - my fav line from it is "it's just a big bag of chips and a burger to go, we've gone all post-modern or so they'd like us to think but it's still a sliced-pan and a carton of milk" - it always makes me smile.

Shinners all about saving life

From UK Commentators - Laban Tall's Blog - Bairbe de Brun supports smoking ban as Laban Tall and England Expects put it -
No doubt she will now oppose other life threatening activities like bombing, shooting, kidnapping and torture."
I think Sinn Fein policy is to allow people to smoke - but only if they're lying in several pieces in the road following an 'operation' of their glorious volunteers


(tried to phonetically reproduce a catty screech but failed)


Peggy Noonan on Blogs

Peggy Noonan is a sister of mine. Not biologically but in the way that feminists like to flock with those who think exactly like them. Peggy doesn't think like feminists and I don't think like feminists and I often think very like Peggy (or more accurately I agree with what Peggy has thought)
Her article on blogs is more informative and analytical than any recent chat on blogs in Ireland has been - the Irish Times and the Sunday Tribune

AtlanticBlog: Congrats!

William Sjostrom was one of the reasons why we decided to set up this blog - we like him a lot! He's just had a addition to his family and he reflects beautifully on the Gospel of Life in action -
"I have not thought or written about the Gospel of Life in the way that, say, Stephen Bainbridge has, nor am I particularly religious. But it hit me full square the first time I changed her diaper. She is still too helpless even to keep herself clean, and thus does she create a splendid obligation for me. Cleaning her became for me the concrete way of understanding why the Gospel of Life trumps what its supporters euphemistically call Choice."

Some of the comments are weird though - check out "helpful diagram".....

Funny how feminists only want 1 kind of woman

Catherine Seipp has an excellent article in National Review Online on how professional feminists are the greatest threat to the freedom of independent women having independent opinions. A woman is not a "sister", practically not even a woman, if she dares deviate from the narrowly defined politically correct views that a group of feminist dinosaurs have decided on. Condaleeza Rice is a case in point. Apparently she was sucked into the vast right wing conspiracy, was brain washed and is now paraded around as a "token" woman in one of the most important jobs in the world to prove that Dubya doesn't hate all women. Perish the thought that she just might be have a brain of her own and is willing to use it. This kind of independent thinking in a female is enough to make any sensible feminist reach for her smelling salts.

Arrests in connection to Bank Robbery

RTE News - Seven held in garda operations in Cork, Dublin

While Gerry challenged Bertie to arrest him, one of his former Sinn Fein elected representatives has been arrested in relation to money laundering.....linked to Northern Bank robbery...
This should be a very interesting development....


Syrian weakness?

The US might be getting something right with its Iraq policy. The strategy was always to fundamentally weaken the various thugocracies in the Middle East by 1) showing that the US would use force to remove unfriendly regimes. This leaves other regimes nervous and limits their room for manoeuver and 2) creating an example of an Arab, Islamic state with a civil society with a functioning economy which would be more responsive to its own public.

According to Dan Drezner, it might be working with regard to the first point. Hat tip to Jonah Goldberg.

It's getting uncomfortable for Syria

Prior to the invasion of Iraq, I wrote the following at TNR Online:

The area specialists aren't necessarily wrong; democratizing Iraq won't be easy. But the conditions aren't nearly as barren as these experts suggest, and the potential upside is enormous. If a democratic transition were to succeed in Iraq, then Syria, suddenly surrounded by established democracies (Israel and Turkey) and emerging democracies (Iraq and Jordan), might start to feel nervous as well.
Note that Lebanon was not mentioned in that graf, because that country has essentially been a Syrian fiefdom since the end of the Lebanese Civil War.
However, the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri yesterday highlights the increasing crunch Syria now faces. David Hirst -- who's covered the Middle East for over forty years -- explains what's going on in the Guardian:

It is Syria, with only one real ally left in the world, Iran, that is on the defensive. So are its Lebanese allies, inside and outside the regime. The conflict is an outgrowth of American strategies in the Middle East, from the war on terror to regime change, democratisation and the invasion of Iraq. Syria is not a member of President Bush's "axis of evil", but, with Iran, it is increasingly targeted as a villain. It is regularly charged, for example, with aiding and abetting the insurgency in Iraq, interfering with the Arab-Israel peace process and sponsoring the Hizbullah militia in Lebanon. The Hizbullah are in turn accused by Israel of aiding and abetting Hamas.
For decades now Syria has been losing card after card in a steadily weakening strategic hand. Its domination over Lebanon is one of the last and most vital of them. Ultimately it will perhaps be a bargaining counter in some grand deal to be struck with America that secures the Ba'athist regime's future in the evolving new Middle East order.
Conversely, however, Lebanon, as a platform that Syria's adversaries exploit against it, is liable to turn into a source of great weakness, if not an existential threat. The Ba'athists, now under siege in so many ways, feel that they are struggling desperately to keep their grip on Lebanon.
But the methods Syria uses, such as political intimidation and backstage manipulation by its intelligence services, seem, if anything, only to be backfiring against it....
Down the years the Lebanese have attributed many political assassinations to Syria, but never dared say so publicly. This time, they have.
Rami G. Khouri, writing in the Beirut-based Daily Star, agrees on the tectonic political shifts uinleashed by the assassination:

The speed, clarity and intensity with which Lebanese opposition groups Monday blamed Syria and its allied Lebanese government for the killing spoke volumes about the troubled Syrian-Lebanese axis being the central political context in which this whole matter must be analyzed....
The events of Monday have unleashed political forces that could transform both Lebanon and, via the Syrian connection, other parts of the Middle East. The already intense backlash to the assassination may lead to an accelerated Syrian withdrawal from Lebanon, and faster reform movements inside both Lebanon and Syria.

The fact that within just hours of the murder five distinct parties were singled out as possible culprits - Israel, Syria, Lebanese regime partisans, mafia-style gangs, and anti-Saudi, anti-U.S. Islamist terrorists - also points to the wider dilemma that disfigures Lebanese and Arab political culture in general: the resort to murderous and destabilizing violence as a chronic option for those who vie for power, whether as respectable government officials, established local warlords, or freelance political thugs.

The New York Times' Steven Weisman and Hassan Fattah report that the assassination itself has already made life more difficult for Syria:

The Bush administration recalled its ambassador to Syria on Tuesday to protest what it sees as Syria's link to the murder of the former prime minister of Lebanon, as violent anti-Syrian protests erupted in Beirut and several other Lebanese cities.

At the United Nations, the administration also demanded that Syria withdraw its troops from Lebanon, and the Security Council called for an urgent investigation into the killing of the former prime minister, Rafik Hariri, who died Monday with 13 others when a huge car bomb blew up his motorcade in downtown Beirut....

In Beirut, large crowds went to the site of the explosion, which investigators said appeared to be the work of a suicide attacker who managed to drive in between cars of Mr. Hariri's motorcade. Another theory was that the bomb had been placed in a sewer or under the pavement.
Though there were some in Lebanon who argued that the murder might have been engineered by Al Qaeda, presumably to punish Mr. Hariri for his ties to Saudi Arabia, demonstrators mobilized throughout the country to blame Syria. In Damascus, Syrian officials continued to vigorously deny involvement in the explosion.

In Sidon, Mr. Hariri's hometown, Syrian workers were attacked by dozens of protesters before the police intervened, and hundreds of Lebanese marched with black banners and pictures of the slain leader. A mob also attacked a Beirut office of Syria's ruling Baath Party.
Thousands of protesters also massed in the northern port city of Tripoli, according to Reuters.
Megan K. Stack and Rania Abouzeid have additional reporting in the Los Angeles Times. And Greg Djerejian has a post up on this at Belgravia Dispatch.


Goldberg on New DNC Chair

Jonah Goldberg has an interseting take on the elevation of Dr Howard Dean to the chairmanship of the Democratic National Committee. The good doctor's bedside manner was and is something which many Democrat congressional leaders fear will be too divisive. Obviously, many grassroots Democrats disagree.

Dr Dean has already been blasting away at the horrible Republicans, suggesting that the Republicans couldn't fill a decent sized conference room with African American supporters without bringing in the hotel staff. It's the sort of stuff that thrills the Democratic base, but it doesn't much appeal to anybody else, and the good doctor is going to make Republican fundraising much easier.

Specter unwell

From Eric Pfiefer of NRO. How is this going to affect Bush's Court nomination strategy?

Specter Medical Announcement

Senator Arlen Specter’s office just announced the senator has been diagnosed with Hodgkin’s disease. From the release:

Senator Specter had experienced persistent fevers and enlarged lymph nodes under his left arm and above his left clavicle. He received testing on February 14th at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital. The testing involved biopsy of a lymph node and biopsy of bone marrow. The lymph node was positive for Hodgkin’s disease. The bone marrow biopsy showed no cancer. A follow up PET scan and MRI at the Abramson Cancer Center of the University of Pennsylvania on February 16th established that Senator Specter has stage IVB Hodgkin’s disease.

More: Senator Specter is expected to receive ABVD chemotherapy every two weeks over the next 24 to 32 weeks at the Abramson Cancer Center. It is expected that Senator Specter will be able to perform all duties of his office including those related to the chairmanship of the Judiciary Committee.

Senator Specter’s oncologist, John H. Glick, M.D., said: "Senator Specter has an excellent chance of being completely cured of his Hodgkin’s disease. Senator Specter’s Hodgkin’s disease has a five-year survival rate of 70%. He is in superb physical condition, particularly in light of his daily squash regimen." Senator Specter said: "I have beaten a brain tumor, bypass heart surgery and many tough political opponents; and I’m going to beat this too. I have a lot more work to do for Pennsylvania and America."

Monday, February 14, 2005

Just some more makeup please Mom!

Sarah Scantlin last spoke 20 years ago before she was involved in a car crash. She had been communicating by blinking yes/no until 3 weeks ago when she regained her voice ---
A week ago, her parents got a call from Jennifer Trammell, a licensed nurse at the Golden Plains Health Care Center. She asked Betsy Scantlin if she was sitting down, told her someone wanted to talk to her and switched the phone to speaker mode:
``Hi, Mom.''
``Sarah, is that you?'' her mother asked.
``Yes,'' came the throaty reply.
``How are you doing?''
``Do you need anything,'' her mother asked her later.
``More makeup.''
``Did she just say more makeup?'' the mother asked the nurse.
Scantlin started talking in mid-January but asked staff members not to tell her parents until Valentine's Day to surprise them, Trammell said. But last week she could not wait any longer to talk to them.

And then there's the story of the little boy was aborted 3 times and then born alive at 24 weeks. He's now a healthy 2 year old.

When there's life there's hope.

Give up yer auld Shinners - No Laughing Matter

Good headline for Brendan O'Connor's Sindo article on Sinn Fein becoming a laughing stock - their pretence at transparent involvement in democratic politics is thankfully being ridiculed.

Today's Morning Ireland interviewed Paula McCartney, the courageous sister of Robert who was brutally stabbed and died in Belfast 2 weeks ago.
This is well worth a listen - 72 people were in the bar at the time - no one saw anything, no one rang the police, no one rang an ambulance.
She alleges that members of the IRA carried this out.
Members of her family and Robert himself voted Sinn Fein.
NO SF people called to her family. She said they were "dismissive" of it.
"I thought the whole fighting for 30 years, was fighting for justice"....
Sinn Fein are telling people who saw anything to go to the priest. What planet are they on? A father is brutally murdered and they stand idly by as a republican community is intimidated into silence.
Justice? Human rights?
This is no laughing matter - if this is the kind of behaviour that SF alleges to be fitting for a political party with an interest in advancing the cause of an "Ireland of Equals", it's just pathetic.


Kevin Myers and the Sunday Papers

I thought I posted this last night but for some reason only known to Blogger they didn't appear.

The Sunday papers have some good articles on the Kevin Myers saga -
Sunday Independent (free reg)- report , Eilis O'Hanlon and some common sense and Brendan O'Connor's translation of Geraldine Kennedy's apology.

The Sunday Times's ">Alan Ruddock defends Myers.
Sunday Times on Minister Cullen's new lone parent's back to work scheme.

More Good News from Iraq

Arthur Chrenkoff in today's WSJ.

Saturday, February 12, 2005

Breda O'Brien on Myers/Lone Parents

A very balanced article by Breda O'Brien on this important and sensitive issue
"A laudable attempt to support lone parents by providing them with the bare minimum needed to maintain dignity, had the unexpected side-effect of making it impossible for many people to live together, much less marry, because of the loss of benefits which would result. This situation needs to be discussed, but it will only happen if a space can be found where defences can be lowered, in order to address an issue that could scarcely be more vital to us all, that is, the long-term welfare of all our children."

Friday, February 11, 2005

The Blogger Formerly Known As Assumptious

The name assumptious was starting to annoy me so I've changed it to auds.
Just in case you were wondering.... ;-)

Mary O'Rourke to "celebrate women in stuggle" with Sinn Fein

Mary O'Rourke has always been a little quirky. She's well able to turn on the schoolmarm scowl and flatten any "bold boy" who dares disagree with her party's line, but I don't think that qualifies as "struggle". The only struggle that Mary has been involved in is getting out of the bath in time in the morning to catch all of Morning Ireland. She's speaking at Sinn Fein's centenary celebration conference on women in politics entitled ‘Unfinished Revolution – from Beijing to Newry’ ....
I think it's all a bit strange. As was clearly pointed out to Aonghus O'Snodaigh in the Dail on Violence Against Women day by FG and FF, Sinn Fein has no moral authority to speak on violence against women given the IRA's non-discrimatory atrocities the past.
I just find the image of Mary O'Rourke traipsing around Athlone in fatigues, waving revolutionary pamphlets before going to bed in a Che T-Shirt a stretch. It's all in aid of the 10th anniversary on the Beijing Declaration on women's rights - as a woman I was unaware that I was taking part in such a momentous revolution. But Mary's obviously been busy drinking tea and eating hang sandwiches in the struggle's HQ.


ER/Scrubs vs Casualty/Holby

James Bartholomew on the differences between healthcare in the US and the UK in the Spectator.

I read Newt Gingrich's "Saving Lives, Saving Money", his book on healthcare reform recently - it's one of those American policy books - you've gotten the message at least 3 times before the end of the introduction - but it's an interesting take on healthcare provision - his main point is that the individual must be empowered to make decisions about their own health care. This means a variety of things from increased health prevention - more exercise, healthy eating, early diagnosis of common conditions - taking part in exercise programmes would decrease your health insurance and he was also supportive of the ideas of health care savings accounts which Bush has introduced and was adamant that the purchaser of health insurance should be the consumer as opposed to the current US system where employers provide cover. The personal responibility of having to choose your own cover and then fork out your cash would hopefully have a beneficial effect, in that you would have more responsibility over your health and hopefully healthy lifestyle choices would follow.
Pity health service arguments here haven't reached that "big picture" stage yet. And until they do, it's hard to envisage any politician, Mary Harney included, working up the political courage to tackle the cosy DoH comfort-zone attitudes.

"Make poverty history" - good or bad???

Rod Liddle on debt relief - he's taking the line that rescheduling debt is better than canceling debt and then he states that rescheduling debt repayment would affect the country's credit rating and lead to higher interest rates on future loans.
He also raises the point that the political culture of a Third World country is much more important than the size of the debt in terms of future development. - "Even when it is not used as a basis to borrow more money, debt relief rarely guarantees that a country will begin to develop its economy, unless economic power is redistributed from the incompetent or corrupt elites which incurred the debt in the first place. In fact, to forgive the debt is effectively to forgive the dictator and entrench him in power. "

Wall Street Journal on Pope's Suffering

Article from Wall Street Journal by Peggy Noonan on the meaning of the Pope's suffering.
I really enjoy Peggy Noonan as a writer and her article on meeting the Pope is very touching.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Brits 2005

The Winners...

Keane are fairly bland - bit disappointed that they won best album over Snow Patrol - Final Straw is much better in my opinion than Hopes and Fears....and Franz Ferdinand is better than Keane too.

Really can't bear listening to the Streets - there's something about him that makes me want to jump up and down repeatedly on the radio everytime I hear him. I suppose someone else obviously likes him given all the albums he's selling.

U2 should've won something - and personally I would've put Tom Waits over Eninem.

Anyway I guess the fact that I have never heard a McFly song and they won the pop award chosen by the public would disqualify me from becoming a MTV presenter!

The Water is Wide....

....and the value differences even wider...Interesting article from this month's Commentary by Arthur Waldron - Europe's Crisis: "It is easy to be amused by the actually existing European Union altogether, with its grandiose yet undistinguished buildings in Brussels and Strasbourg, its shameless feather-bedding and extravagant entertainment and conference budgets, side by side with its political haplessness, military weakness, book-length constitution, and reflexive habit of impotently wagging a finger across the Atlantic while ignoring Russia, China, the Middle East, and its own competing nationalisms and dysfunctional economies"

I believe the onus is not on America to become less warmongering, capitalist, vulgar, wrong or whatever else us Europeans bandy at them but for Europeans to reflect on our values and lack thereof. America's strong central tenets of democracy, free speech etc etc are not matched here and we seem to shy away from any real debate on what binds the European Union. Is there anything more than a union based on being the anti-USA?

The British Bias Corporation!

The language used in the reporting of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has always been contentious as various news sources allow their prejudices to freely colour their reports. This is yet another example of this from the BBC via Melanie Phillips


Firstly, much as I love to attack Myers for his self indulgent ranting, I don't actually think I can add much to Assumptious' post, which was balanced and wise.

Secondly, the guy has printed a grovelling apology in the IT today. Clearly even he realised that he had gone too far, and the self preservation instinct kicked in. To what extent this mea culpa is sincere it is hard to tell.

Of course, the upshot is that debate over the lone parent allowance is dead, single handedly slain by Kevin Myers. Dr Ed Walsh showed a lot of courage by sticking his head over the parapet on this issue. Myers used his remarks in a column, and Dr Walsh got tarred with the same brush. Which just goes to show you how interersted in any issue Myers actually is. Not a whole lot.

He says he is "very, very sorry". He ought to be. Not for just for causing offence, but for killing debate. What an idiot.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Kevin Myers

Richard Delevan has a very good post on the Kevin Myers issue - I'll toddyunct give the honour of the full rant on why he thinks Myers is no addition to Irish journalism. While I felt that Dr Edward Walsh made some interesting observations on Irish society, most of which I agree with - he did acknowledge that anything outside of the politically correct public debate script would always be very contentious.
Myers should have kept his mouth shut. Democracy is based on the concepts of mutual respect and human dignity - the language used in public discourse should reflect that dignity of the human individual and his/her role in society. The Freedom Institute provides exercepts from his piece - as my mother would say - it's no great shakes.
The FI claim that his language was not a "hanging offence" - I won't be so sure...if by hanging one means that Kevin Myers is forced to temper his language and learn new words that allow him communicate in a manner that is non-offensive - I'm all for hanging him!
This incident illustrates what many find noxious about Myers - if you disagree with him fair enough, but when you broadly agree with some of his positions and feel that he should be muzzled there's something very wrong with him - if one takes a position on social issues, as Myers regularly does, it is expected that you believe enough in that position to convince your fellow citizens of its worth and hopefully integrate into public policy. Myers has no such desire - it seems that he would much rather stir up controversy with some carefully chosen insults and then run away from any real and meaningful discussion of the issues.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Indymedia-can they go any lower?

Diagnosis: Projection With Elements of Denial and Narcissism - National Crime and Justice - Indymedia Ireland

Apparently this is "feature on crime and justice" - portraying Michael McDowell as a Nazi. It's just ridiculous and sick. Are these people for real?
I don't actually recommend visiting this site as these people wouldn't know democracy if they fell over it (or freedom or decency for that matter)
if I was McDowell I'd sue.

you gotta love Indymedia delusions when they claim to be a "network of collectively run media outlets for the creation of radical, accurate, and passionate tellings of the truth. We work out of a love and inspiration for people who continue to work for a better world, despite corporate media's distortions and unwillingness to cover the efforts to free humanity."

Truth? Love? Accurate? Most definitely not.


Irish American Soldier in Iraq

Article in National Review from Joe Skelly, former college professor in New York who's now serving in Iraq with the 411th Civil Affairs Army Reserve Battalion in support of the 3rd Brigade Combat Team of the 1st Infantry Division.
Eoghan Harris mentioned him in his article in the Sunday Independent - Eoghan describes him as "my friend, the Irish-American historian, Professor Joe Skelly, who volunteered from the National Guard for service in Iraq where, right now, rifle in hand, he is helping to defend Iraqi democrats against the anarchist thugs who want to drag Iraq down to darkness."

Dame Ellen MacArthur

What an achievement!
Inspiring display of determination, grit, hope and endurance of the human spirit.
20 mins sleep a night, alone for 71 days on open ocean through storms, freezing cold and boiling heat.
Just watching her get off the B&Q now (what a cool sponsorship deal for them!) and she's jumping, hopping and running with such energy.

Her website and her charity

"US has used tsunami to boost aims in stricken area"

Irish Times Article - US has used tsunami to boost aims in stricken area
(needs subscription)

The US can never do anything right - "has subtly turned tragedy into imperial strategy in the politics of relief" and "openly declaring that it wants to promote political and economic stability in the area. Loosely translated, it wants peace to ensure profit."

I would've thought that if you were against the notion of economic stability and profit ( as the IT seems to be) you would be very much for peace...and I would think that peace would be a worthy goal regardless of whether or not it was accompanied profit.
But peace without profit, peace without economic stability isn't very attainable or sustainable.


Funny Pic

I know a lot of Irish won't appreciate this, but I think it's quite funny.

Right Wing News (Conservative News and Views)

Sunday, February 06, 2005

Fisk and Dooley on the Late Late

Speaking of "on the ground" analysis, Robert Fisk attempted to rubbish Mark Dooley's arguments on the Late Late on Friday by repeating over and over again that Mark had never been to Iraq and was therefore not qualified to speak on such secretive "you had to be there to get it" subjects such as the success of the elections in Iraq.
Robert then took his patronising "I'm the real journalist here, I talk to people in the street" attitude to a new level by suggesting that Mark join him in Baghdad to really see what was going on!
There are a number of problems with Fisk's analysis on a number of levels from a number of different's Robert Fisk we're talking about so I suppose there always will be!
Fisk's "objective" journalism comes in quite a subjective package - unless one has had direct personal experience and has been there and dodged the bullets in the Rambo-type fashion that Fisk claims he has, one can't hold an opinion - Mark Dooley hasn't been to Iraq and it is wrong for him to believe that democratically held elections in a country formerly shackled to a tyrannic, bloodthirsty, monsterous despot is a good thing. There are a number of things I believe, but wrongly so using Fisk's logic - Mount Everest is the tallest mountain in the world (I haven't measured it and have yet to read Fisk's accurate and factual account of its being so, so therefore I humbly recant my heresy)
Mark Dooley mentioned the bloggers from Iraq. Fisk obviously doesn't believe them either, he probably only believes things he's not only seen, but digested in his bitter bile-coloured rants that Irish elites are so fond of. Maybe Fisk only believes things that are doubly proved - that is, he's seen them and then read about in his own column so dammit it must be true.
Fisk's biggest round of applause came when he very graciously acknowledged that he likes American people, but only when they're in America. Big hearted and tolerant is our Fisky.
Perhaps the most interesting fudge came when an audience member spoke of the work that the Forgotten Children charity are doing in the aftermath of the horrific Rwandan genoicide. (can't find site but here's article on them) Most people would see that this scenario is the sort of one that a swift international military intervention would have prevented but not Fisk....he just started talking about democracy, flowers and spring breezes all the while denying the worth of the democratic process in Iraq and condemning America.
Check out some of the Iraqi bloggers (but don't tell Fisky - he would never believe it) Soul stirring stuff.

The Mesopotamain - Yet Baghdad; subjected to a terrorist and intimidation campaign of unprecedented scale and cruelty; Baghdad, deprived of electricity, fuel and lately even water( which is more dangerous than anything else); Baghdad, that lacks security, where the citizens face mortal danger every moment of their daily life; Baghdad, where life has almost ground to a standstill; that citizens of this Baghdad should line up at polling stations braving very real dangers, with mortars raining down and scores of suicide bombers sent out to blow up people, and moreover that many even brought their children: this Baghdad was a revelation even to Baghdadis.
This was no ordinary election, and it was not simply to elect a constituent assembly. It was the answer of the people, what they really thought about the liberation, what they really thought of the ideas preached by the president. This was a message by the Iraqi people to the American people and their great president. It was the heart of Iraq answering the heart of America that voted to give the President the mandate to finish the task; it was the answer that the common people of Iraq gave by braving danger and exposing their life and that of their children and families to death, this was their way to make their voice heard.Well, thank you Mr. President, we heard you; and I am sure you also heard us.Peace be upon you all and the mercy of Allah and his blessings.

Democracy in Iraq -
Let me also take this time out to condem non-Iraqis who continue to deny what has happened in Iraq. I have read all over the internet comments by idiots who insist that the elections were false, that Iraqis are opressed, and that the future is Civil War.
You are not here, you are not living as we are, you do not get an accurate picture. The election was a resounding success, Iraqis are hungry for freedom, and we are building the future together. All this gloomy talk is nothing more than lies and evil vitriol by people who want to see our nation in trouble, and wish to deny us freedom and liberty.Shame on you people. If you do not know what is happening in Iraq, then do not open your mouth, it will only make you look dumber than you already do when Iraq is a strong, democratic and free country.I also want to say to my fellow Iraqis that we have made great progress in the last few months, but let us not be content. There is a lot still to be done, we have just began on the path, but we have shown that we have the resolve to finish the job. Let us continue working towards a unified Iraq, let us put the past behind us, and look to the bright future, one that will only be forged if we all combine our strengths!

Where is Raed? with Salem Pax.

For the best round up on the other various good news stories from Iraq check out Chrenkoff.

Hats off to Mark Dooley - watching the Late Late on a Friday night is hard enough but giving up precious minutes of your life to debate with Robert Fisk live on the Late Late, hosted by Kenny Lite, on a Friday night is downright heroic!!

Sunday Tribune on Blogs

Today's Sunday Tribune had an article today on blogs. I'm afraid I can provide no more info on the specs of the article as I read it in a random stranger's copy of the Turbine on the train back to Dublin. The writer (I'm not a journalist so please excuse my lack of hard facts but I promise to research this and come back with details) essentially made the point that blogs while they might rock in other countries, they won't change anything in Ireland.
I am very glad for blogs like the Corner and Instapundit who provided me with an insight into the recent American elections quite unlike the biased and ideologically driven rants of Marion McKeone in the Turbine. It's almost as if she decided to paraphrase Maureen O'Dowd and then sprinkle on some Democrat party press releases and voila, cutting edge "on the ground" analysis from Ms McKeone.
Roll on the blog revolution to Ireland - It's high time someone took the Turbine's poor analysis to task.

The Edge of Bird

Tabloids are much more fun to read about than to actually read.
For example, Charlie Bird's love life is a subject of great fascination for the Ireland on Sunday hacks, so much so that they sent out their courageous photographer to find a juicy pic of RTE's favourite chief/special news correspondent with his new love. Charlie responded with a diatribe on Joe Duffy's Liveline (good to know that Charlie's famous flexibility extends even to making appearances on other RTE shows) saying that his personal life should not be subjected to such scrutiny...fair enough Charlie...I think most sensible people would emphatically deny any interest in Charlie Bird's love life, personal life or social life...come to think of it, most of us can barely muster up interest in Charlie's professional life and he's the one we turn to for his incisive and exciting coverage (RTE translation=Charlie's own opinions and speculations) of every "big" news story.
The other punter subjected to tabloid examination is the Edge - details of a family illness were published in the Sunday World and a court injunction was obtained by the Edge. The Sunday World's defence was that this story was in the public's interest due to the possible effect it could have on U2's Vertigo Tour. Coming from someone who just about obtained 1 seated ticket for Croke Park on the Saturday and has a desire to stand with a number of friends, my public interest would be much better served by a Sunday World investigation into whether or not there will be a Sunday gig (please let there be!).
Naomi Campbell's victory in the English courts over issues of privacy will probably be repeated by her former boyfriend's bandmate's challenge in the Irish courts.
The legal wranglings of this are not particularly interesting to me but the social milieu from which the tabloids feel that they have a mandate to fearlessly investigate the minutiae of celebrity's lives is. I normally obtain my celeb gossip from friends, a trip to the hairdressers and perhaps a broadsheet review of the tabloids (the Sindo is particularly talented at this!) I don't actually buy VIP/Hello/OK/Heat etc - I like to keep my celeb watching local.
Our interest in the Joneses up the road is no longer. Most of us in apartmentland/new suburia hardly know where the local church/community centre is let alone who our neighbours are. But we are painfully aware of Brad and Jen, Posh and Becks, Big Brother randomers, D4 solicitor/socialite types and possibly overaware of Charlie and his Bird.
My humble suggestion, in the manner of William Buckley of National Review, standing athwart history and shouting "stop", is that we re-acquaint ourselves with our real neighbours. That is the people who live next door to us, on the same road and seek juicy nuggets of their lives. Shutter lens and rubbish bin sorting are of course optional but rather fun I would think. Because it is in this age old tradition of indulging our voyeuristic/gossipy side, we build community. The bridge of gossip is one that Mary McAleese should consider adding to her platform of engineering excellence. And then the Edge and Charlie Bird would be left in peace to produce great albums and report on wars from the bird's eye vantage point of a neighbouring country.
And I would eventually find out what that dodgy couple in number 14 are really up to.

Friday, February 04, 2005

How are we going to deal with IRA threats?

This is the question that the Irish punditocracy seems unwilling to answer. The second IRA statement, warninig the two governments not to underestimate the gravity of the situation, along with warnings that the Provos are recruiting and preparing to go to war, is causing Irish commentators to go into a tizzy, with studied outrage the norm. Even the Old Lady of D'Olier Street, the Irish Times is purporting take a tough line with the Provos, saying that a situation in which the parties in the Dáil "stretch their democratic constituencies to the limit..can no longer be tolerated."

Stirring stuff. While other commentators have been calling the PIRA and the Adams family to account for quite some time now, the IT has finally gotten in on the game. Welcome to the party, Geraldine.

But there is no sense of what ought to be done if the IRA do go back to "war", their euphemism for killing and maiming women and children. As things stand, the Provos maim and torture teenagers, and knock off cigarette factories and proclaim their commitment to peace, while their political wing go from strength to strength.

It's intolerable, and SF ought to be held to account. No democracy can withstand the kind of hypocrisy which their links to terror constitute. But what do we do if the IRA do go beack to the bullet and the bomb. I'm for a tough, politically smart response, which takes out the terror masters without alienating the Nationalist community. but do the governments have the will?


Wednesday, February 02, 2005

P O'Neill's Patience tried to the limit

IRA are taking all their proposals off the table. Blaming Dublin...but are not yet giving up on the peace process.
Yes P O'Neill - there's a real difference between fighting for peace and wanting to fight for....well I'm not really sure what the IRA are fighting for now - their patience had been tried to the limit with all the allegations of criminal activity flying around.....ahh bless.
Unlike P O'Neill's impatient streak, the families of the disappeared....the family of Jean McConville (not McCabe as Mary Lou MacDonald called her) and all the families of those brutally murdered by IRA bombs have had the patience of Job. They're still waiting for justice.
And if everytime the IRA is challenged on its position in the peace process in a democratic country and P O'Neill gets itchy feet, those families will be waiting for longer, patiently and quietly dealing with their grief.


Must Read Mullen

Rónán Mullen has an interesting piece in the Examiner today, focusing on President McAleese's remarks which seemed to compare Northern Protestants.

It's that last clause which really somes up the problem. Did she or did she not compare the likes of Paisley with the Nazis? Not exactly. As I understand it, she compared the virulent anti semitism which led to the systematic persecution of European Jews in the Third Reich with language used by certain Northern Protestants. Mullen quotes some of this language, published by the Protestant Telegraph, and it does make chilling reading.

But the context in which she made this comparison was the commemoration of the liberation of Auschwitz and it is easy to see how those remarks could be framed.

Let's get a few things straight. Northern Catholics were treated apallingly in the North of Ireland from the inception of that statelet. All the outrages of the IRA since then cannot disguise that fact. But the fate of European Jewry from 1933 to 1945 is an utterly different league, a different scale.

It has been pointed out that Hitler's aim was to eradicate European Jewry, through both extermination and expulsion, and that he largely succeeded. This is often overlooked.

Pre 1933, there was a large and vibrant Jewish community in Europe. Now there is but a tiny smattering. European Jews contributed much to scientific and intellectual endevour. Their disappearance has been a grave loss to the continent. This is often overlooked.

Anti Semitism, of course, was not a solely German malaise. In fact, most European countries had an element of this bigoted sentiment. Many people in occupied countries, such as Poland, France and Slovakia, were only too willing to help the Nazis in their murder drive.

And the Irish? The pogrom of Jews in Limerick in the early 1900's is known of, as is DeValera's refusal to take in Jews fleeing Nazi persecution. But it is not widely discussed. It too is often overlooked.

President McAleese could have highlighted these issues, which require highlighting. For too long, Europe has allowed Germany to bear the guilt of the demise of Europe's Jewish community on its own. While there is some measure of justice in this, it has meant that other European peoples, including ourselves, have been absolved, and this is not helpful.

Instead of beginning this discussion, however, she chose to make remarks which, however true in themselves, too easily lent themselves to misinterpretation. Context matters. Those remarks would have controversial in any case, but the arena in which she made them was utterly inappropriate.


Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Amendment for kids?

Emily Logan the Ombudsperson for Children, an unheard of paper pusher, wants an amendment to acknowledge that children are "rights bearers". A quick perusal of her submission to the All Party Oireacthas Committee on the Constitution, which bears all the hallmarks of having been written in totality by Geoff Shannon, her "co-author", reveals a text obsessed with UN Conventions and hard cases.

The submission laments the Constitutional position of the family, suggesting that it "lacks child focus". It moves from tragic but rare cases to argue for the status of children as "rights bearers".

Predictably, various groups have moved to criticise the proposal as it undermines the role of parents. An amendment which gives children autonomy and privacy rights would neccessarily weaken parents position.

The invocation of a UN Convention which stresses these kind of rights, such as the child's right to freedom of association, tells its own story.

Hard to see this going anywhere fast. There isn't much appetite for this sort of thing amongst the political classes. And imagine trying to persuade Sean and Brigid to vote to allow their kids "privacy rights"?!!!

Surely the Ombudsperson for Kids could be spending her alloaction of our money in a more productive way, like organising paper airplane contests, or table tennis tournaments?